Residents encouraged to join RSPB Birdwatch as part of wider wildlife drive

The first residents of Linmere in Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire, are being encouraged to take part in the RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch later this month as part of the development's wider focus on enhancing the natural environment across the new village.

The annual event asks householders to record the number and type of birds visiting their gardens or local park, with more than a million taking part across the UK last year.

The Linmere initiative is part of its month-long ‘Love Garden Visitors' drive aimed at highlighting the numerous natural attractions of the new development and its surroundings.

Linmere's community ranger Richard Eltringham from national charity the Land Trust is responsible for looking after more than 190 acres of natural habitat and green space across Linmere.

And he will be distributing information about the Birdwatch through letterboxes as part of his campaign to involve the community in engaging with the nature on their doorstep.

As well as encouraging them to take part in the event in the last week of January he will be making upcycled bird feeders to hang in the newly opened Linmere Park South and inspiring them to do the same in their own gardens if they have one.

He will also be taking part in the Birdwatch and collating all the individual residents' findings to a glean a sitewide insight into bird numbers as the development progresses.

Attracting birds to Linmere is part of the much wider focus on enhancing the local habitat. With no resident more than a five-minute walk from an open green space, and outdoor living a key feature of Linmere life, ensuring the land is protected is a priority for the consortium overseeing the development.

Around a third of the 650-acre village will not be developed, ensuring a range of diverse habitats. These include the creation of wildlife corridors and zones of accessible, semi-accessible and inaccessible green space which ensure some areas are protected from human interference.

Richard said: "A healthy garden requires a good diversity of birds. Birds are essentially seed carriers for plants by assisting in their germination when the birds eat their fruit. So this month why not count the flying visitors that you see in your garden or park and submit your records to the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch?"

Linmere development director Nigel Reid added: "With outdoor life a core part of the joy of living at Linmere, the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch has our name written all over it! What better way to love your Linmere life than to watch these beautiful visitors heralding the not-too-far-off arrival of spring!  Protecting our wildlife and enhancing habitats is vital to us and we all, as individuals and organisations, must play our part in preserving and harmlessly enjoying the natural environment."

In total around 5,150 homes will be built over the next 15 years by the Linmere consortium which comprises master planners Lands Improvement, Aviva Investors, and the Diocese of St Albans.

Its community hub, the Farmstead, is due to open this spring and the development will also see the creation of two new state of the art primary schools and an extension to Houghton Regis' existing Thornhill Primary school. A ten-form secondary school will open in 2022/3. 


The RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch is running from Friday 28-30th January. Signing up gets you your pack to help you take part and a code for 20% off at the RSPB shop with free p+p. To date there has been over forty years of data collected giving an accurate insight into the changing fortunes of our garden birds. This year’s event will not only show the continuing impact Covid 19 has had, but the effects of the avian flu outbreak on the different bird species. This survey also gives an insight into the general state of the environment. So, if you can, please take part, it involves just one hour of watching at any time over the weekend. If you don’t have access to a garden then it can be done at a local park. The great news is you don’t need to be

Top: Linmere birdfeeder; Additional images licenced Adobe Photo-Stock. 

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